Looking at the title, I already formed a couple of questions in my head: “Who is Bibi Blocksberg?” and “Was there a Big Broom Race 1 and 2?” After doing a little research, I came to realize that Bibi Blocksberg is actually a children’s franchise that has made a name of itself in German territories. It spawned an animated series that lasted from 1995 to 2003 and has had its fair share of video games aimed at younger audiences on the Nintendo DS.

As for the game being called “Big Broom Race 3“? Well, beats me. My Google searches left me to believe this is the only game of its kind. Still, it’s rather interesting to see this game have an international release in some capacity. Perhaps the folks at Markt+Technik were confident enough in it reaching a new audience overseas? Either way, let’s get right into it and kick off the plot.

Story

The holidays have come by Mania’s School of Witches, but Bibi’s parents are too busy for her to come home for the occasion. To celebrate the holidays with her friends at school, she proposes they all partake in flying races. That’s about it. There are cutscenes told in comic book-esque panels, but they’re all really just there to establish the races themselves. It’s nothing special, but there was nothing for me to expect in the first place.

Graphics

Bibi Blocksberg: Big Broom Race 3 is not exactly a looker, given what the Nintendo Switch is capable of. It feels more like an early entry into the sixth generation of consoles more than anything else. There’s a subpar celshading attempt for the character models, blurry floor textures, and a framerate that maximizes at 30 per second. That said, the racetracks have plenty of potential visible in their foundations. Given the right circumstances, I can see these worlds make for very cool courses. You can even switch to a first-person view and see the tracks unfold directly from the character’s perspective. Pretty neat!

Audio

Honestly, I completely forgot about the game’s soundtrack until I needed to fill out this category. If there was ever a “In one ear, out the other” scenario for video game OSTs, Big Broom Race 3‘s is it. The ambiance that the tracks have pale in comparison to the upbeat musical scores of the more notable kart-racers out there. What I do recall is how some of the girls sound like guys trying to make girly voices. That’s not exactly a reassuring thought.

Gameplay

The racing mechanics in Bibi Blocksberg: Big Broom Race 3 are not too far off the likes of the genre pioneer that is Mario Kart. You accelerate forward as you ride past AI opponents and use items to your advantage. Three laps around the course and you move on to the next. As previously stated, I think there’s plenty the game could work with when it comes to the creative potential of the environments represented in-game. Suffice to say, the game didn’t really take advantage of it.

If you feel the need to plaster dash pads along ordinary stretches of road, then your game is a little too slow. Those things provide the only bits of real speed you’ll get out of Big Broom Race 3. There are also hardly any unique obstacles or hazards that the courses bring to the table; at best, there may be a couple things to avoid in the whole track. As a result, the game meanders all the way through. Items don’t offer much, either. The best one is this game’s equivalent to Mario Kart‘s Bullet Bill, while the few others you can get are not so useful nor notable.

Somehow, even with some of the things the game does to extend length, it ends up taking just under an hour to play through all twelve tracks. Beating them does unlock a mirror mode and a couple bonuses, but are they really worth playing through if the original tracks weren’t that good? Even if you do take them on, you’d still only have spent maybe half an afternoon with the entire game. And there’s no way to make the AI harder.

Verdict

While little kids can probably ignore certain shortcomings, Bibi Blocksberg: Big Broom Race 3 simply doesn’t hold a candle compared to some of the other games available on the Switch that its audience could enjoy. I didn’t expect the game to compete with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, obviously, but it could at least have mustered the ability to appeal to those players in a decent capacity. Instead, it falls in line with the stereotype that gave licensed video games their negative reputation throughout the 2000’s.

Review copy provided by Markt+Technik